Some young protesters have been trying to flee Hong Kong illegally because they believe they face long jail sentences. Their comrades have warned them about it. So-called experts and pundits claim the Hong Kong courts are being “weaponised” by the state. Yet, the evidence points to the exact opposite. Protesters have a much better chance putting themselves at the mercy of the courts than fleeing the law. If you jump bail or otherwise escape illegally, you become a fugitive for life. You are leaving friends and families behind, and face a life of uncertainty and hardship, not to mention risking your life. Global rallies call for release of 12 Hongkongers detained in mainland China You may be caught like those 12 now detained indefinitely in Shenzhen, or those five who fled to Taiwan, only to end up being detained there. Most of those who managed to arrive safely in Western countries report being isolated, penniless and hopeless. It’s true that the maximum sentence for rioting is 10 years in prison. That’s exactly what protest groups have been warning and scaring each other with. Commentators warn the courts are being turned into an instrument of the state. So-called experts and pundits claim the Hong Kong courts are being ‘weaponised’ by the state Here’s a typical criticism from one of the city’s more prominent public intellectuals. “Anyone can be easily accused, criminalised and imputed,” wrote Simon Shen in The Diplomat . “This trend has now begun, but it has not yet become a predominant trend, since it takes time to rectify the judicial branch. By the time the executive, legislative and judicial branches of government are able to cooperate fully, however, such cases will become more common.” Really? The news headlines seem to say otherwise. A newlywed couple who were among the first to be charged with rioting were found not guilty in late July. A teenager was also acquitted. Hong Kong student arrested at protest acquitted over ‘contradictory’ evidence A 19-year-old student accused of obstructing traffic during an anti-government protest last year has just been cleared of the charge after a court ruled the police’s evidence was “contradictory”. Seven people accused of rioting were cleared of all charges after the judge said being present at a protest and dressing in black and carrying protective gear were not sufficient evidence to convict. A construction worker was sentenced to serve 160 hours of community service this week for spreading online rumours about police sexually assaulting women held at a detention centre. If I were a rioter, I would try my luck in court any time rather than going into exile.